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Hikane

Hikane

Age: unkown
Place of birth: Koajiro forest (supposed), Japan

"I know what I saw." Satori kept stuttering.

His kimono was torn, full of twigs and leaves, its pattern washed beyond any recognition.
The whole village gathered around him, watching him as if he was a revenant, as he had gone missing for a full month now.

"A kitsune."
Satori wiped his dirt stained forehead as the villagers were dead silent.
"I was gone to gather some clay in the forest  to help my father at the workshop when I lost my way.
I still couldn't find any path I knew of when the night fell on me.
Wolves started to howl closer and closer before encircling me.
I saw them, several pairs of glowing yellow eyes emerging from the bushes. I thought I was done for when it happened."

Despite a hundred persons gathered around him, you could hear a pin drop.
Everyone was suspended at his lips, when a small and aged woman finally broke the unbearable silence:
"Well what happened young boy? Don't just sit here with that stupid look upon your face, tell us!"

Satori shot his head back up, his eyes wide open and pointing a finger up, the villagers looked above them, confused.
 "Music! Coming right from above my head! A small flute tune, it sounded like a lullaby! Or a spell. I can't describe it with words.
But then something I've never seen happened."

Satori crouched with his hands out in front of him, staring at the crowd. He looked like a madman.
"The wolves sat and listened. Then they went away when the tune ended.
I looked above me to see a she-fox casually sat on a high branch, looking at me with a playful smile upon her lips.
She wore a purple kimono made out of silk in the middle of the woods.
I did not hear or see her at any moment before she started to play her flute.
There is no way she was a normal woman, I tell you."

The small old woman scoffed at his face with an inelegant laugh:
"I've never heard something so ridiculous! How did you get back here anyway?"

Satori did his best to not appear affected by her remark, and continued:
"She told me to follow her. To where? I didn't know, but she was the first friendly figure I have encountered in days of wandering, so I did.
I asked for her name, but I do not remember what she answered me.

Whenever I was thirsty, she would hand me her gourd who seemed to have no bottom. I could drink without ever emptying it.
Whenever I was hungry, she would play her flute and all kinds of fruits would blossom from the ground, some of them that I have never seen before.

For how long she leaded me though the woods. Days? Weeks? I do not know.
Until this morning when I saw the village in the distance, and here I am.
But I know what I saw: a Kitsune."

The crowd stood silent before slowly dispersing, some of the villagers shaking their heads, some other exchanging some looks and laughing quietly.

When Satori finally stood alone with the old woman, she straightened her back before chuckling with a playful smile:
"Hikane. I told you my name was Hikane."

And before he could say a single word, she disappeared between the trees.

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